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How Can Carotid Artery Disease Be Prevented?

Taking action to control your risk factors can help prevent or delay carotid artery disease and stroke. Your risk for carotid artery disease increases with the number of risk factors you have.

One step you can take is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Following a healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.

A healthy diet includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It also includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and fat-free or low-fat milk or milk products. A healthy diet is low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium (salt), and added sugar.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's (NHLBI's) Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) are two programs that promote healthy eating.

If you're overweight or obese, work with your doctor to create a reasonable weight-loss plan. Controlling your weight helps you control carotid artery disease risk factors.

Try to do physical activity regularly. Physical activity can improve your fitness level and your health. Ask your doctor about what types of activity are safe for you.

If you smoke, quit. Smoking can damage and tighten blood vessels and raise your risk of carotid artery disease. Talk with your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit. Also, try to avoid secondhand smoke.

Know your family history of health problems related to carotid artery disease. If you or someone in your family has this disease, be sure to tell your doctor.

If lifestyle changes aren't enough, you also may need medicines to control your risk factors. Take all of your medicines as prescribed.

For more information about lifestyle changes and medicines, go to “How Is Carotid Artery Disease Treated?”

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November 1, 2010